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Progress for Equitable Policies, Innovation and Sustainability in the Paper and Wood Products Industry

Starting a new job may feel like the first day of school. With new faces, unfamiliar terminology and new policies and guidelines, it can seem daunting.

But when Andrew Topps, Assistant General Counsel for the American Forest & Paper Association joined in 2010, he hit the ground running, finding his new position as an opportunity to champion the paper and wood products industry.

Prior to joining AF&PA, Topps was an antitrust lawyer in private practice, representing several industries. His first task at AF&PA was tackling the industry’s focus on antitrust issues.

“When I started at AF&PA, one of my first assignments in 2010 was to help update the AF&PA Antitrust Compliance Guidelines for the Forest and Paper Industry. Working with member company General Counsels and legal departments relating to antitrust has been rewarding, and I believe the industry has made great progress in the area of antitrust compliance over the last 11 years,” Topps said.

While working as assistant general counsel for AF&PA, Topps has recently added a new project to his plate – leading AF&PA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team, where he spearheads meaningful and beneficial conversation and dialogue within the organization.

“It is a great pleasure to work with colleagues who have compassion, dedication and enthusiasm relating to diversity, equity and inclusion. I am proud to lead a team determined to make a positive difference at AF&PA and in their communities.” 

Another significant step forward Topps has seen in the last decade has been the technology and innovations that the industry has committed to using.

“I believe the industry will continue to change and adapt using technology to innovate to make essential and sustainable products,” Topps said. “This industry provides sustainable and essential products that people will always need. That has been reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While working at AF&PA, Topps has had the opportunity to learn more about the products we rely on every day and the renewable nature of those products. 

“I wish everyone knew the success story that is the circular nature of this industry. The use of recycled material to make new products and the sustainable management of forests help conserve a natural resource for future generations,” he noted. “I wish instead of casting the forest products industry as an environmental enemy, it should be rightly hailed as an environmental champion.”

Topps credits his “little village”, which includes his wife, parents, family, friends and church family for helping guide him during his career journey.

“Others who have influenced me include bosses and colleagues at the Federal Trade Commission, my previous law firms and here at AF&PA,” Topps noted. “Collectively, these influencers have encouraged me to be professional, observant, prepared, consistent, organized and a leader. They’ve also taught me to make connections, understand relationships between related data points and always give your best effort.”

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper